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1^1 



Agriculture 
Canada 



ivS -I) 1993 



Library / Bibliotheque, Ottawa K1A 0C5 




ife 



Research Branch 
Technical Bulletin 1993-4E 

Assessment 

of cropping 

systems in 

Manitoba 

using 

agroecological 

resource 

regions 



Canada 



Cover illustration 

The images represent the Research Branch's objective: 

to. improve the long-temi competitiveness of the Canadian 

agri-food sector through the development and transfer of new 

technologies. 

Desiiiiied by Research Proi'iani Service. 

Illustration de la couverture 

Les dessins illiistrent lohjectif de'la Direction generale de la 
recherche : ameliorer la competitivite a long terme du secteur 
agro-alimentaire canadjen grace a la mise au point et au transfert 
de nouvelles technologies. 
Comeplion par le Service ai(.\ proi^ranimes de recherches. 



® 



I 



Assessment of 

cropping systems in 

Manitoba using 

agroecological 

resource regions 



E.C. HUFFMAN, V. KIRKWOOD 
Centre for Land and Biological Resources Research 

Ottawa, Ontario 

J.C HILEY 

Alberta Pedology Unit 
Agriculture Canada 
Edmonton, Alberta 

K.E. TOOGOOD 

Systems Development 

Alberta Agriculture 

Edmonton, Alberta 

This work was published with the support of the National Soil 
Conservation Program, Soil Quality Evaluation Program 

Technical Bulletin 1993-4E 



Research Branch 

Agriculture Canada 

1993 



Copies of this publication are available from 

Director 

Centre for Land and Biological Resources Research 

Research Branch, Agriculture Canada 

Ottawa, Ontario 

K1A0C6 

© Minister of Supply and Services Canada 1993 
Cat. No. A54-8/1993-4E 
ISBN 0-662-20366-6 



3 
ABSTRACT 

This study characterizes and compares farm-level cropping systems in Manitoba, employing a 
biophysical framework for database organization and presentation. The province was subdivided into 
Agroecological Resource Areas (ARAs), which are areas of similar landscape, soil classification and 
parent material. These ARAs were then grouped into ten Agroecological Resource Regions (ARRs), 
which are areas of similar agriculture production potential based on ARA parameters and agroclimatic 
conditions. 

A farm-level cropping systems legend, based on the type and proportion of crops within a farm 
unit, was developed using Census of Agriculture data in consultation with local agronomic and soils 
specialists. Four specialized Systems (Irrigation, Horticulture, Specialty Crops and Pasture) and eight 
Dryland Systems (Wheat & Fallow, Wheat, Wheat & Oilseeds, Wheat & Barley, Barley, Barley & 
Feeds/Forages, Feeds & Forages and Mixed) were identified. The eight Dryland Systems were each 
further subdivided into Low Pasture and Moderate Pasture variants. Irrigation and Horticulture Systems 
were not assessed in this study. 

Farm-level information from the Census of Agriculture for 1981 and 1986 was extracted for each 
ARA and simple descriptive statistics were used to summarize crop and economic information for each 
system at the ARR level. 

Over 17,500 farms were classified in each study period, representing about 60 percent of all 
farms in the Province. Approximately 80 percent of these farms occur in four ARRs (Manitoba 
Escarpment, Winnipeg Plain, West Lake and Sandilands). For analysis purposes, only cropping systems 
which represented at least 10% of the farms within an ARA in 1986 were considered characteristic of 
that ARA. Analysis of only these 'Major Systems' resulted in 43 combinations of ARRs and cropping 
systems and reduced the number of farms analyzed per time period to approximately 11,500. 

Several basic trends were noted as a result of the analysis of Major Systems by ARR for 1981 
and 1986. Generally, farm size increased, the proportion of total farm area under cultivation increased, 
and the proportion of oilseeds increased in those ARRs with suitable climatic and land characteristics. 
In terms of changes in cropping patterns, an overall decline in the number of farms within the Specialty 
and Mixed Systems was accompanied by an increase in the number in the Wheat System. With respect 
to financial comparisons, there was a general increase in the value of fuel and fertilizer inputs for most 
Major Systems, but a similar comparison of gross margins and economic efficiency is subject to question 
due to a drought throughout Manitoba in 1980 (the year of sales and expenses for the 1981 Census). 
However, farms in regions with better agroecological resources were subject to generally smaller 
declines in economic returns than those in regions with less favourable resources. 



4 
RESUME 

Les auteurs ont caract6ris6 et compart les systfemes culturaux du Manitoba en se servant d'un 
cadre biophysique pour I'organisation et la presentation des donn6es. lis ont subdivis6 la province en 
zones agro6cologiques, qui correspondent k des portions de territoire caract6ris6es par un relief, une 
classe de sol et un materiel parental semblables. Ces zones ont ensuite 6t6 regroupdes en dix r6gions 
agro^cologiques, qui sont des portions de territoire ayant, selon leurs caract6ristiques p6dologiques et 
g^omorphologiques et leurs conditions agroclimatiques, un potentiel agricole comparable. 

Apr^s consultation des prologues et phytotechniciens locaux, les auteurs ont 6tabli, en partant 
des donn6es de rencensement de I'agriculture, une 16gende des systfemes culturaux fondle sur le type et 
la proportion des cultures k I'int^rieur des exploitations agricoles. lis ont ddfini quatre systfemes culturaux 
specialises (cultures irrigudes, horticulture, cultures spdciales et pSturages) et huit systfemes en culture 
non-irriguee (h\6 et jach^re, bie, bl6 et oieagineux, bl6 et orge, orge, orge et grains de 
provende/fourrages, et fourrages et cultures mixtes). Ces demiers ont ensuite 6t6 subdivis^s en deux 
categories selon la proportion de pSturage (faible et moderee). Les cultures irriguees et 1 'horticulture 
n'ont pas ete evaluees dans la presente etude. 

Les auteurs ont extrait des recensements de I'agriculture de 1981 et 1986 les donnees sur les 
fermes pour chaque zone agroecologique et ont utilise la statistique descriptive pour resumer I'infomiation 
sur les cultures et les donnees economiques pour chaque systfeme k I'echelon des regions agroecologiques. 

Pour chacune des periodes visees par I'etude, ils ont classe plus de 17 500 exploitations agricoles 
de la province, soit 60% du total. Environ 80% d'entre elles sont situees dans quatre regions 
agroecologiques (escarpement du Manitoba, plaine de Winnipeg, West Lake et Sandilands). Aux fins de 
I'analyse, seuls les syst^mes culturaux representant au moins 10% des exploitations k I'interieur d'une 
zone agroecologique en 1986 ont ete consideres comme caracteristiques de cette dernifere. En ne retenant 
que ces principaux systfemes, les auteurs en sont arrives k 43 combinaisons de regions agroecologiques 
et de syst&mes culturaux, et ont ramene le nombre d' exploitations k analyser par periode k environ 11 
500. 

L'analyse des principaux systemes par region agroecologique pour 1981 et 1986 a fait ressortir 
plusieurs grandes tendances. En r^gle generale, la taille des exploitations a augmente, la proportion de 
leur superficie totale en culture s'est accrue, et la proportion des superficies en oieagineux a progresse 
dans les regions agroecologiques presentant les caracteristiques climatiques et pedologiques adequates. 
Pour ce qui concerne la repartition des exploitations selon les systfemes culturaux, on a note une baisse 
globale du nombre d' exploitations dans les categories systfemes culturaux specialises et cultures mixtes, 
conjuguee k une augmentation du nombre d' exploitations dans la categorie culture du bie. Sur le plan 
financier, on constate un accroissement aux postes des carburants et des engrais dans la plupart des 
principaux systfemes, mais les resultats des comparaisons portant sur les marges brutes et I'efficacite sont 
sujets k caution en raison de la secheresse qui a sevi partout au Manitoba en 1980 (annee des ventes et 
des depenses aux fins du recensement de 1981). Toutefois, dans les regions favorisees par de meilleures 
ressources agroecologiques, les recettes ont accuse de moins fortes baisses que dans celles moins bien 
pourvues. 



5 
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 

The implementation of integrated research on the geographic distribution of farm-level cropping 
systems within a regional biophysical framework has required timely input from a large number of 
individuals. People from across the Prairie Region and from the following agencies were consulted: 
Agriculture Canada, Statistics Canada, Manitoba Agriculture, University of Manitoba, Saskatchewan 
Institute of Pedology, Alberta Agriculture, Alberta Economic Development and Trade, and the University 
of Alberta. Specific acknowledgements are directed to Dr. W.W. Pettapiece and Dr. J. Dumanski for 
their continued commitment to integrated studies of agricultural land use in Canada. 



6 
TABLE OF CONTENTS 



page 

Abstract 3 

R6sum6 4 

Acknowledgements 5 

1.0 Introduction 9 

.1 Objective 9 

.2 Background 10 

2.0 Method 10 

.1 Agroecological Resource Classification 11 

.2 Farm-level Cropping System Classification 11 

.3 Cropping System Characterization 15 

3.0 Results 17 

.1 Winnipeg Plain ARR 19 

.2 West Lake ARR 22 

.3 Sandilands ARR 25 

.4 Interlake ARR 28 

.5 Manitoba Escarpment ARR 31 

.6 Spruce Woods ARR 34 

.7 Souris River Basin ARR 37 

.8 Turtle Mountain ARR 40 

.9 Riding Mountain ARR 43 

.10 Duck Mountain ARR 46 

4.0 Discussion 49 

5.0 Conclusions 52 

6.0 References 53 



List of Tables 



Table 1. 


Table 2. 


Table 3. 


Table 4. 


Table 5. 


Table 6. 


Table 7. 


Table 8. 


Table 9. 


Table 10. 


Table 11. 


Table 12. 


Table 13. 


Table 14. 


Table 15. 


Table 16. 


Table 17. 


Table 18. 



Summary of climate and soil characteristics of Agroecological 
Resource Regions (ARRs) 

Correlation of Census variables with Cropping Systems 
diagnostic variables 

Cropping Systems characterization variables 

Cropping Systems legend and diagnostic criteria 

Distribution of farms by ARR and Major Cropping System, 
1981 and 1986 

Characterization of Major Cropping Systems, 
Winnipeg Plain ARR, 1981 

Characterization of Major Cropping Systems, 
Winnipeg Plain ARR, 1986 

Characterization of Major Cropping Systems, 
West Lake ARR, 1981 

Characterization of Major Cropping Systems, 
West Lake ARR, 1986 

Characterization of Major Cropping Systems, 
Sandilands ARR, 1981 

Characterization of Major Cropping Systems, 
Sandilands ARR, 1986 

Characterization of Major Cropping Systems, 
Interlake ARR, 1981 

Characterization of Major Cropping Systems, 
Interlake ARR, 1986 

Characterization of Major Cropping Systems, 
Manitoba Escarpment ARR, 1981 

Characterization of Major Cropping Systems, 
Manitoba Escarpment ARR, 1986 

Characterization of Major Cropping Systems, 
Spruce Woods ARR, 1981 

Characterization of Major Cropping Systems, 
Spruce Woods ARR, 1986 

Characterization of Major Cropping Systems, 
Souris River Basin ARR, 1981 



page 
13 

14 
15 
16 

17 

20 

21 

23 

24 

26 

27 

29 

30 

32 

33 

35 

36 

38 



List of Tables (continued) 



page 



Table 19. Characterization of Major Cropping Systems, 

Souris River Basin ARR, 1986 

Table 20. Characterization of Major Cropping Systems, 

Turtle Mountain ARR, 1981 

Table 21. Characterization of Major Cropping Systems, 

Turtle Mountain ARR, 1986 

Table 22. Characterization of Major Cropping Systems, 

Riding Mountain ARR, 1981 

Table 23. Characterization of Major Cropping Systems, 

Riding Mountain ARR, 1986 

Table 24. Characterization of Major Cropping Systems, 

Duck Mountain ARR, 1981 

Table 25. Characterization of Major Cropping Systems, 

Duck Mountain ARR, 1986 

Table 26. Average Gross Margins and Average Sales to Expenses 

Ratios by ARR, 1981 and 1986 

Table 27. Gross Margins and Sales to Expenses Ratios for Mixed 

Cropping Systems by ARR, 1981 and 1986 



39 
41 

42 
44 
45 
47 
48 
51 
51 



List of Figures 



Figure 1. 



Manitoba Agroecological Resource Regions 



page 
12 



1.0 INTRODUCTION 

In Manitoba there are strong associations between land resources and agricultural land use; 
climatic and soil resources impose different types and levels of constraints on land use options. This 
relationship reveals the impact of physical setting on agricultural activities and economic options, and 
determines the strategies landowners can use to generate a living within a specific area. Documentation 
of the links between resources and production activities can lead to an improved understanding of needs 
and opportunities, and thus enhance the management of resources. Programs and policies tailored to 
specific areas could assist in optimizing production and minimizing environmental impacts, while 
management strategies which recognize different levels of limitation could reduce financial risk. 

1.1 Objective 

The objective of this report is to assess farm-level cropping systems in Manitoba, employing a 
biophysical framework for database organization and analysis. Within that spatial framework, the 
assessment is based on individual farms which are grouped according to similarities in crop type and 
proportions. The Manitoba study is intended to be one in a series covering all three prairie provinces, 
so the development of a standardized approach employing Census data, Agroecological Resource Regions 
and a prairie-wide cropping systems classification scheme is part of the goal. 

There are five sections in the report, including this introduction. The second section outlines the 
methodology, while the third describes each Agricultural Resource Region on the basis of the distribution 
of cropping systems and the characteristics of those systems in both 1981 and 1986. The fourth section 
is a discussion of trends in economic performance and agricultural land use in Manitoba. The final 
section presents conclusions based on this integrated assessment of agricultural land use within a 
biophysical framework. 



10 

1.2 Background 

Integrated assessments of agricultural land use based on biophysical principles has been a topic 
of interest for some time (FAO, 1978). The critical point of this approach is that the climate and land 
resources impose a set of constraints on agricultural activity at broad scales. These limitations are 
addressed at the farm-level through variations in the mix of crops and livestock as well as the 
management practices associated with these factors. The resultant combinations of capital investment, 
cropping systems and enterprise type are relatively stable through time. 

Regional patterns of agricultural production can be expressed by a farm-level classification based 
on cropping systems (Huffman and Dumanski, 1985). Differences in the economic structure and 
performance of cropping systems were documented and expressed by quantitative measures of land use 
intensity, and the spatial association between agricultural land use intensity and a generalized classification 
of land capability was outlined. For example, in eastern Ontario, cropping systems based on com and 
soybeans used more land of higher agricultural capability and had greater capital investment and higher 
income, expenses and gross margins than systems based on a combination of cereal grains and hay. 

A more thorough examination of the association between soil capability and land use was 
conducted to determine if specific land characteristics were associated with different cropping systems 
(Dumanski et al., 1987). The results, based on the use of Information Theory, indicated that there were 
definite links between agricultural land use and land characteristics such as soil, parent material and 
surface texture. 

A spatially stratified approach at a much smaller scale was used more recently to summarize 
farming strategies in the major soil zones of the Canadian prairies (Huffman, 1988). A link between the 
Soils of Canada map polygons (scale 1 :5 M) and Statistics Canada Enumeration Areas was used for broad 
scale research on agricultural land use. The analysis identified several important trends: 

1) Agricultural land use in the Black Chernozemic Soil Zone was more diverse than in 
Zones with less available moisture; 

2) The quantity and value of farm inputs were greatest in the Black Soil Zone; 

3) Gross margins (income minus operating expenses) were generally only slightly higher in 
the Black Soil Zone; and 

4) Relative economic efficiency (ratio of sales to expenses) was generally highest in the low 
input wheat/fallow system of the Brown Soil Zone. 

These results indicate that different management strategies are used in different Soil Zones, with 
differing economic results. Recognition of the economic performance of cropping systems in the context 
of landscape characteristics underscores the importance of integrated physical/socioeconomic assessments 
to agricultural land use studies. 

Results from past research indicate that increasing the scale of study and refining the classification 
of farming activity would provide improved understanding of agricultural land use. Such 
recommendations are incorporated into this assessment of agricultural land use in Manitoba. 

2.0 METHOD 

Describing defined regions on the basis of cropping systems and socioeconomic characteristics 
was accomplished by linking Enumeration Areas (EAs), which typically represent between 15 and 40 
farms, with biophysically delineated Agricultural Resource Areas (ARAs). Each farm within each ARA 
was then assigned to a cropping system based on its crop distribution as reported in the Census. Then 
a statistical summary of socioeconomic data for each cropping system for each ARA was extracted. Data 



11 

for cropping systems with fewer than 10 farms in an ARA were suppressed by Statistics Canada in 
accordance with confidentiality policy. Because of the large number of ARAs in the province, further 
analysis was restricted to Agricultural Resource Regions (ARRs), which are associations of ARAs 
grouped according to similarities in broad agroclimatic potentials. 

2.1 Agroecological Resource Classiflcation 

Delineation of land units for land evaluation purposes was suggested by FAO (1976) as ideally 
being based on biophysical principles and a hierarchical structure. The main characteristics of a relevant 
biophysical land classification for agriculture include agroclimate, landform and soil information (FAO, 
1978, 1984). Land classification based on these characteristics has been developed for Alberta 
(Pettapiece, 1989), wherein Agroecological Resource Regions (ARRs) represent broad groupings based 
on climate (heat and moisture limitations) while Agroecological Resource Areas (ARAs) represent 
subdivisions of these units on the basis of regional landform. A preliminary map following a similar 
method of classification was available for use in the current study (Eilers, 1989, pers. comm.). The map 
and associated information are presented in Figure 1 and Table 1 respectively, and a brief description of 
each ARR is presented below. 

The Winnipeg Plain ARR is one of four lowland areas in south-central Manitoba. It is noted for 
minimal relief, fine-textured soils and an agroclimate suitable for the commercial production of specialty 
crops such as sugar beets, corn and sunflowers. The West Lake ARR is a northern extension of this 
Plain, with cooler climate and medium-textured soils. The region is well suited to cereal grains and 
oilseed production. 

Southeastern Manitoba is dominated by the Sandilands ARR, a region of coarse textured mineral 
soils with organic soils in poorly drained depressions. The climate for agriculture is slightly limited by 
a lack of heat, while variable surface expression and poor drainage impose significant limitations on the 
extent of cultivation. The production of cereals for feed and forages is common. 

The Interlake ARR is a level to undulating plain characterized by subdued ridge and swale 
topography, medium-textured soils and a slight heat limitation. It has good land resources in the southern 
and central portions, but land capability is limited by limestone bedrock close to the surface in the north. 
Feed and forage production and native grazing are common throughout the ARR. 

The Manitoba Escarpment ARR is a hummocky upland plain of medium-textured till soils, and 
suffers from a slight heat limitation. It lies between regions of high elevation (Turtle, Riding and Duck 
Mountain ARRs) and those of low elevation (Souris River Basin and Spruce Woods ARRs), and is noted 
for production of spring grains and oilseeds. Cultivation within Duck and Riding Mountain ARRs, and 
at higher elevations in Turtle Mountain ARR, is limited due to steep topography, moderate heat 
limitations and bedrock, but some wheat, oilseeds and forages are grown in areas of better soils on the 
perimeters. 

The Souris River Basin and Spruce Woods ARRs, with more level landforms, coarse-textured 
soils and only slight heat limitations, have greater crop diversity, with specialty crops like com being 
grown in the Souris River ARR, and potatoes and sunflowers in Spruce Woods ARR. 

2.2 Cropping System Classincation 

The objective of the classification scheme was to identify groups of farms with similar mixes and 
proportions of crops. These 'systems' were then characterized and compared in terms of key land use 



12 




= 11 SANDOANDS 



Figure I . Manitoba Agroecological Resource Regions 



13 

Table 1. Summary of climate and soil characteristics of Agroecological Resource Regions of Manitoba. 

Region 



Agro- 
climate 
Zone* 



Land- 
form 



Texture 



Soil Classincation 



Wirmipeg Plain 


2A 


Plain 


Clayey 


Black Chemozemic, 
Gleysolic 


West Lake 


2H 


Plain 


Fine Loamy 


Black Chemozemic, 
Gleysolic 


Sandilands 


2H 


Plain 


Sandy 


Dark Gray 
Chemozemic, Gray 
Luvisolic 


Interlake 


2H 


Plain 


Fine Loamy 


Dark Gray 

Chemozemic, 

Gleysolic 


Manitoba Escarpment 


2H 


Hummocky 


Fine Loamy 


Black Chemozemic 


Souris River Basin 


2H 


Plain 


Coarse Loamy 


Black Chemozemic 


Spruce Woods 


2H 


Hummocky 


Sandy 


Black Chemozemic, 
Regosolic 


Turtle Mountain 


2H 


Steep 


Fine Loamy 


Dark Gray 
Chemozemic 


Riding Mountain 


3H 


Steep 


Fine Loamy 


Gray Luvisolic 


Duck Mountain 


3H 


Steep 


Fine Loamy 


Gray Luvisolic 



2A - slight moisture limitation for the production of cereal crops 
2H - slight heat limitation for the production of cereal crops 
3H - moderate heat limitation for the production of cereal crops 



and economic indicators. The procedure of identifying systems, defining them with respect to crop 
proportions, linking census farms to biophysical units, sorting farms according to system and 
characterizing systems and ARRs was carried out as follows: 

1) General crop rotations and cropping systems applicable to the Prairie Region were 
identified through consultation with regional specialists; 

2) Cropping systems diagnostic criteria (crop mixes and proportions) were established 
through an iterative process with specialists, regional data sources and analysis of Census 
data; 

3) Crop and land use variables of the Census were correlated with cropping systems 
diagnostic variables, and a classification scheme based on the mix, biophysical specificity 
and proportion of different crops in each Census farm was prepared. Some grouping of 
Census variables into 'diagnostic' variables (Table 2) was required in order to make the 



14 

data manageable, to account for similarities in management and biophysical requirements 
of different crops and to resolve a problem of changes in the definition of some Census 
variables between 1981 and 1986; 

4) Census of Agriculture data was linked to ARAs through manually overlaying 
Enumeration Area (EA) maps on the ARA base map and selecting EAs with at least 70 
percent overlap with an ARA; 

5) A preliminary classification of Census farms was carried out for a representative range 
of landscapes in Manitoba. The results were presented to regional specialists and criteria 
were adjusted where necessary; 

6) The final classification program was run for all areas, and a computer tape summarizing 
the characterization variables for each cropping system by ARA was produced; and 

7) Data from ARAs was aggregated to ARRs and a statistical summary of characterization 
variables for each 'Major System' was generated. 



Table 2. Correlation of Census Variables with Cropping Systems diagnostic variables. 
1981 Census Variables 1986 Census Variables Diagnostic Variable 



irrigated area - no change 

mushrooms, tree and small - no change 

fruits, greenhouse crops, 
nursery crops and vegetables 

corn for grain, corn for ensilage, - no change 
field peas, potatoes, tobacco, 
field beans, sugar beets, sun- 
flowers, buckwheat, soya beans 
and 'other field crops'* 



tallow 


- no change 


all wheat 

(winter, spring, durum) 


- no change 


barley for grain 


- no change 


canola, mustard, flax 


- no change 


mixed grains, oats for 
feed, other forage crops, 
alfalfa and tame hay 


- add feed 
barley and all 
hay 


improved pasture, other 
improved land, unimproved 
pasture, woodland 


- add other 
unimproved land 



- Irrigation 

- Horticulture 

- Specialty Crops 



Summerf allow 
Wheat 

Barley 

Oilseeds 

Feeds & Forages 

Pasture 



* 'other field crops' includes other dry beans, lentils, millet, triticale, canary seed, root crops for 
feed, safflower, caraway seed and sod grown for sale. 



15 

2.3 Cropping System Characterization 

The objective of the statistical summary was to provide a concise description of key farm 
characteristics, selected to highlight the physical and economic structure of farms within a system and 
to provide a consistent comparison of systems within and between ARRs. The characterization variables 
included farm size, proportion of land cultivated, crop distribution, capital investment levels and aimual 
income and expenses (Table 3). Crop variables used for characterization were not identical to those used 
as 'diagnostic variables'. 

The database acquired from Statistics Canada consisted of a single value for each characterization 
variable for each cropping system in each ARA. 



Table 3. Cropping Systems characterization variables. 
Type Label 



Definition 



Generul 
Physical 
Crop Distribution 



Economic 



1 Number of farms 

2 Percent of farms in region 

3 Farm size 



4 Cultivated area 

5 Specialty crop 

6 Summerfallow 

7 Wheat 

8 Oilseeds 

9 Barley 

10 Cereals for feed 

1 1 Oats for grain 

12 Forages — ' 

13 TotalCapital Investment 



14 Land 

15 Machinery 

16 Livestock 

17 Annual sales 

18 Operating Expenses 

19 Gross Margin 

20 Fuel 

21 Fertilizer 

22 Sales to Investment 

23 Sales to Expenses 



Number of farms in the system in the ARR 

Farms in the system as percentage of total 

farms in the ARR 

Total farm area, including owned and rented 

land, in hectares (ha) 

Cultivated area as a percentage of farm size 



Area of each crop or 
crop group as a percent 
of cultivated area 



Total capital investment (owned land, 

buildings, machinery, equipment and 

livestock) in $/ha ' 

Land as a % of total capital 

Machinery as a % of total capital 

Livestock as a % of total capital 

Total agricultural sales of previous year in 

Operating expenses of previous year in $/ha ^ 

Total sales minus operating expenses 

in$/ha* 

Fuel (machinery + drying) expenses 

in $/ha 

Fertilizer expenses in $/ha 

Ratio of total sales to total capital investment 

Ratio of total sales to operating expenses 



1. The Census respondent estimates the present market value of their owned land, buildings, 
machinery and equipment. Livestock value (cattle, pigs, sheep, bees, poultry ana other) is a 
derived variable, calculated by Statistics Canada from mformation on the number of livestock 
provided by the respondent. Variable is calculated as total value h- farm size. 

2. Total sales includes sales of all agricultural products, shares from tenants, cash advances for 
stored crops. Marketing Board or Agency payments, income from custom work and rebates, all 
for the year previous to the Census year (198(i and 1985). Sales of capital items (e.g. machinery) 
or forest products are not included. Variable is calculated as total sales -^ farm size. 

3. Operating expenses include cash rent, share rent, cash wages, feed, fertilizer, chemicals, custom 
work, fuel, repairs, electricity and other miscellaneous expenses, all for the year previous to the 
Census year. It does not include livestock purchases, veterinary bills, telephone and postage, 
professional services, insurance. Marketing Board fees, taxes, interest payments, mortgage 
payments nor depreciation. The operating expenses variable was created to standardize some 
measure of inputs across two time periods, and caution is advised when interpreting it, 

§articularly for systems which have a major livestock component (e.g.. Feeds and Forages 
vstem). Variable is calculated as operating expenses -h farm size. 

4. Variable is calculated as (total sales - operating expenses) -^ farm size. 



16 

The arithmetic mean of all farms in a system in an ARA was used to summarize physical and 
crop variables, since wide deviations in these populations would be non-existent due to the use of class 
limits for definition of cropping systems. However, in the case of economic variables, the median was 
used in order to minimize the impact of extreme values within the data. For example, a small farm with 
a large livestock component might produce extreme financial values per hectare. The mean and median 
values for all ARAs within an ARR were averaged to produce the characterization values for that ARR. 

The procedure of identifying predominant crop rotations and cropping patterns in different parts 
of the prairies, and testing and refining specifications for classifying Census farms, resulted in a legend 
of 12 primary cropping systems as outlined in Table 4. Since the diagnostic criteria for dryland systems 
were based on percentage of cultivated area, and since many of these farms had substantial areas of 
pasture, each system was further subdivided into 'low pasture' (pasture <20% of farm area) and 
'moderate pasture' (20-70%) variants. Farms with greater than 70% pasture were typed as specialized 
'Pasture' farms. The legend differentiates systems on the basis of crops which reflect major soil, climate 
and management requirements, and is applicable to the prairie region. 

To classify individual Census farms, each farm was tested against the diagnostic criteria outlined 
in Table 4, and was assigned to the first category into which it fit. The testing order was important, since 
the classes were not mutually exclusive. For example, a 100 ha farm with 51 ha of wheat, 21 ha of 
barley, 21 ha of oilseeds, 5 ha in fallow and 2 ha of irrigated horticultural crops could fit into any of five 



Table 4. Cropping Systems legend (in specific order for classification) and diagnostic criteria 

Cropping System Diagnostic Criteria 

(area of crop as a percent of 
cultivated area', unless specified) 

Specialized Systems: 

1. Irrigation - irrigated area greater than 10% 

2. Horticulture - horticulture crops greater than 0.1 ha 

3. Specialty - special crops (corn, sunflowers, potatoes, etc.) greater than 10% 

4. Pasture - pasture greater than 70% of total farm area 

Dryland Systems i^ 

5. Wheat & Fallow - wheat greater than 50% and fallow greater than 20% of farmland 

6. Wheat - wheat greater than 50% and fallow less than 20% of farmland 

7. Wheat & Oilseeds - wheat greater than 30% and oilseeds greater than 20% of farmland 

8. Wheat & Barley - wheat greater than 30% and barley greater than 20% of farmland 

9. Barley - barley greater than 50% of farmland 

10. Barley & Feeds/ - barley greater than 25% and feed grains plus forages 25% to 

Forages 50% of farmland 

11. Feeds & Forages - feed grains plus forages greater than 50% of farmland 

12. Mixed - farms not oUierwise classified. 

' Cultivated area includes all annual crops, fallow, alfalfa, other forage crops and tame hay, but 

not improved pasture, other improved land or unimproved land. 

2 Each dryland system was further subdivided on the basis of the proportion of the total farm area 

that is pasture. 'Low Pasture' variants have less than 20% pasture, 'Moderate Pasture' variants 
have 20%-70% pasture. (Greater than 70% pasture is a Specialized 'Pasture' system). 



17 

different classes. The order of the classification scheme reflects the economic intensity and locational 
significance of the diagnostic variables and eliminates the need for repeated exclusions in preparing 
definitions of systems. 



3.0 RESULTS 

Approximately 17,500 farms, or about 60 percent of all farms in Manitoba, were captured in each 
Census period. Those not captured were in EAs which did not meet the 70% correspondence criteria 
with an ARA, and thus were not included in the study. There were approximately the same number of 
farms captured in both time periods, although the number of farms within an ARR was not necessarily 
the same in 1981 as in 1986. This was due in some cases to real changes in farm numbers, and in others 
to changes in EA boundaries. 

'Major Systems' were defined as cropping systems that accounted for at least 10 percent of the 
farms in an ARR in 1986. Approximately 12,000 farms, or about 69 percent of the farms in the study, 
were included in Major Systems. Generally, Major Systems encompassed 70 percent or more of the 
farms in a Region (Table 5). 

Four regions (Winnipeg Plain, Manitoba Escarpment, West Lake and Tnterlake), which have no 
major limitations to annual cultivation of crops suited to Manitoba's climate, contained approximately 77 
percent of the farms in the study. About 12 percent of all farms were associated with ARRs with a 
moisture limitation due to coarse-textured parent material (Sandilands, Souris River Basin and Spruce 
Woods) and 11 percent occurred on or in close proximity to steep topography and moderate heat 
limitations for cereal production (Turtle, Riding and Duck Mountain ARRs). 

Table 5. Distribution of farms by ARR and Major Cropping System, 1981 and 1986. 



Agroecological 
Region 



No.of 
Farms 
(1981) 



No.of 
Farms 
(1986) 



No. of 
Major 
Systems 
in ARR 


No.of Farms 
in Major 
Systems 
(1986) 


Farms in Major 
Systems as a % 
of all Farms 
in ARR (1986) 


4 


3,049 


68 


5 


1,781 


76 


4 


884 


74 


4 


1,486 


81 


4 


2,884 


59 


5 


292 


81 


6 


543 


86 


4 


592 


73 


3 


405 


68 


4 


230 


72 



Winnipeg Plain 
West Lake 
Sandilands 
Interlake 

Manitoba Escarpment 
Spruce Woods 
Souris River Basin 
Turtle Mountain 
Riding Mountain 
Duck Mountain 
Total 



4,488 

2,265 

1,075 

2,126 

4,661 

286 

677 

1,027 

452 

386 



4,484 

2,343 

1,194 

1,835 

4,903 

361 

632 

811 

595 

319 



17,443 17,477 



12,146 



18 

The following sections provide extensive descriptions of each ARR in terms of location, physical 
setting, cropping systems and socioeconomic characteristics in 1981 and 1986. Several cautionary notes 
about the data should be taken into consideration. First, sales and expenses figures for the 1981 Census 
refer to the 1980 crop year, a year of significant drought throughout Manitoba. With decreased yields, 
sales figures were bolstered somewhat with inventory (grain and livestock) decreases and subsidies, 
creating a distorted relationship between yields, expenses and income. Even though costs were reduced 
through decreased inputs and field activities, it is difficult to assess the relative impact on gross margins 
and economic efficiencies. A general, province-wide decline in these variables between the 1981 and 
1986 Censuses indicates that 1981 values may be inflated over a 'normal' situation. In any case, financial 
comparisons between 1981 and 1986 should be made with caution. However, comparisons between 
ARRs and cropping systems within each year should remain valid. 

Another concern is the spatial distribution of farms within ARRs. The ARRs are not sufficiently 
homogeneous to assume that farming activities are evenly distributed within each one, particularly in the 
large or 'fringe' regions. In most cases, some spatial segregation of systems within an ARR must be 
assumed, especially in the case of regions such as Riding, Duck and Turtle Mountains and West Lake 
and Interlake. 

Finally, the data presented here is intended primarily for description rather than explanation. The 
intent of this report is to provide a base for cause-and-effect research by highlighting the spatial 
relationships between the landscape and economic activity. 



19 

3.1 Winnipeg Plain ARR 

This region is composed of six ARAs and includes the cities of Winnipeg and Portage La Prairie. 
Most of the unit consists of a plain of fine-textured Black Chemozemic soils with a climate unrestricted 
for production of crops such as cereals, oilseeds and grain com. The western portion of the ARR 
consists of a plain of medium-textured soils that merges with the Manitoba Escarpment ARR, while soils 
of somewhat more coarse texture are found toward the eastern border of the ARR. The Canada-United 
States border delineates the southern limit while the Interlake and West Lake ARRs form the northern 
boundary. 

Farms of all four Major Systems (Wheat, Specialty, Wheat-Oilseeds and Mixed) were in the Low 
Pasture category, indicating extensive annual cultivation (Table 6). In 1981, the Specialty System and 
the Wheat System accounted for approximately half of the total number of farms. The Specialty System 
had in general the largest farms, and a diverse crop mix of special crops, wheat, oilseeds and barley. 
Wheat, oilseeds and barley were also important in the Wheat & Oilseeds System, whereas summerfallow, 
oats for grain and forages represented greater proportions in the Mixed System. 

Total capital value per hectare was highest for the Wheat System, but the distribution of capital 
among land, buildings, machinery and livestock was virtually identical across all Major Systems. 
Specialty farms had the highest income and expenses per hectare, but gross margins were greater for the 
Wheat & Oilseed System, due in part to lower operating expenses. All Systems in this ARR had roughly 
similar fuel use per hectare, but fertilizer expenses were considerably lower for the Mixed System than 
for the others. Capital investment use efficiency was similar among the Major Systems, while operating 
expenses use efficiency was highest in the Wheat & Oilseeds System and lowest in the Specialty System. 

Data from the 1986 Census indicated that there was a decline in the proportion of farms in the 
Specialty System and an increase in the proportion in the Wheat and Wheat & Oilseeds Systems (Table 
7). All systems except the Specialty System had a larger land base in 1986 than in 1981, while crop 
distribution summaries indicated a trend towards more oilseeds and less barley in all Systems. 

The absolute value of total capital investment per hectare declined for all Major Systems between 
1981 and 1986, with a lower percentage apportioned to land. This reflected a dramatic decline in land 
values between the two dates. Both sales and expenses per hectare nearly doubled; however, it was 
beyond the scope of this study to ascertain the extent to which drought, inflation and/or real increases 
in costs of production accounted for this. Gross margins for the Specialty and Wheat & Oilseeds Systems 
were similar in 1986. Both of these systems exhibited a much larger increase relative to 1981 values than 
either Wheat or Mixed Systems. Sales to investment ratios in 1986 were higher than in 1981 for all 
Major Systems, whereas the sales to operating expenses ratios were lower, especially for the Wheat & 
Oilseeds System. 



20 



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22 

3.2 West Lake ARR 

This Region contains eight ARAs and includes the Town of Dauphin. The largest portion of this 
unit is a plain of medium-textured Black Chernozemic soils, although coarse-textured soils occur in the 
south and Dark Gray Chernozemic soils are found in the north. There is a slight heat limitation for 
annual cereal production. The eastern limit of the ARR is defined by Lake Manitoba, Lake Winnipegosis 
and the Interlake ARR. The western limit includes the Spruce Woods, Riding Mountain, Duck Mountain 
and Manitoba Escarpment ARRs. 

The 1981 Census data indicated that five Major Systems (Mixed-Moderate Pasture, Pasture, 
Mixed-Low Pasture, Feed and Forages and Wheat-Low Pasture) accounted for 70 percent of the farms 
(Table 8). The type of systems, as well as crop proportions, highlighted the relatively low level of 
agricultural intensity in this ARR. Forages, barley, oats and cereals for feed dominated except in the 
Wheat System, where wheat constituted 68% of the cultivated area. The Mixed-Moderate Pasture System 
had the largest farm size, but the Mixed-Low Pasture System had a greater worked area given the higher 
proportion of land under cultivation. 

The Low Pasture Systems had the highest total capital investment per hectare values, while the 
proportion of total capital value represented by livestock in the Moderate Pasture and Pasture Systems 
indicated that livestock production was a significant component. The highest sales, expenses and gross 
margins per hectare were in the Wheat-Low Pasture and Mixed-Low Pasture Systems. The gross margins 
indicated that these intensive systems (as evidenced by high fuel and fertilizer costs) were also the most 
profitable of the Major Systems in this ARR, despite the drought. There was little differentiation among 
the Major Systems on the basis of the sales to investment ratio, but the sales to expenses ratio indicated 
that the Pasture System was relatively less efficient. 

The 1986 Census data indicated a decline in the proportion of farms in the Mixed Systems and 
an increase in the Wheat-Low Pasture System (Table 9). The Pasture System and Wheat-Low Pasture 
System underwent a considerable increase in total farm size. Crop proportions remained fairly stable 
between 1981 and 1986, with a slight shift from barley to oilseeds in the Mixed-Low Pasture System and 
an increased proportion of forages in both the Pasture System and Feed & Forages System. 

Total capital investment values declined in all Major Systems except the Feed & 
Forages-Moderate Pasture, while the proportion of capital attributable to machinery and equipment 
increased. Sales and expenses values were higher in the 1986 data than in 1981 data in all cases, but 
gross margins were lower. The sales to investment ratio was slightly higher in 1986 for all systems, but 
the sales to expenses ratio was lower. The difference in these ratio values between Systems that was 
evident in the 1981 data was not seen in the 1986 results. 



23 



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25 

3.3 Sandilands ARR 

There are five ARAs in this region, which includes the Town of Steinbach near its western 
boundary. A plain of coarse-textured Dark Gray Chemozemic and Gray Luvisolic soils dominates much 
of the unit, and organic soils are found in depressional areas. There is a slight heat limitation for annual 
crop production. This ARR is bounded on the north and east by the Canadian Shield, by the Winnipeg 
Plain ARR on the west, and by the Canada-United States border on the south. 

In 1981, four Major Systems (Feed & Forages-Moderate Pasture, Pasture, Mixed-Moderate 
Pasture and Mixed -Low Pasture) accounted for 68 percent of the farms (Table 10). These Systems had 
a high proportion of pasture, with only the Mixed-Lx)w Pasture System having a relatively high proportion 
of annual cultivation. Hay and cereal grains grown for feed dominated the cultivated area of the Feed 
& Forages and Pasture systems, while cash grains, oilseeds and summerfallow were the principal choices 
in the more intensive Mixed Systems. 

Total capital value per hectare was highest for the two Mixed Systems and decreased with 
increasing pasture proportions. The high proportion of capital in the livestock component of the Feed 
& Forages and Pasture Systems highlighted the emphasis on livestock production in these systems. The 
Mixed-Low Posture System had the highest sales, expenses and gross margins but the Feed & Forages 
System also showed a respectable gross margin based on much lower sales and expenses. Sales to 
investment ratios for the 1981 data were consistently low for all Major Systems, while sales to expenses 
ratios indicated higher relative economic efficiencies for the livestock-based Feed & Forages System and 
the intensively cropped Mixed-Low Pasture System. 

The 1986 Census data indicated stability in the proportion of farms in each Major System excq)t 
Mixed-Low Pasture, which showed an increase from six percent in 1981 to eleven percent in 1986. The 
1986 data also showed a decline in the average farm size for the Feed & Forages System and an increase 
in size for the Mixed-Moderate Pasture System (Table 11). Both Mixed Systems underwent an 
adjustment in crop distributions between 1981 and 1986, with an increase in the proportion of oilseeds 
and a decrease in oats for grain. 

Total capital value per hectare for the Mixed-Moderate Pasture System declined, but a modest 
increase was noted for the Pasture system. There was a shift to a greater proportion of capital value in 
livestock in both the Feed & Forages and Pasture Systems. A greater proportion of capital value in 
machinery in the Mixed Systems was demonstrated in the 1986 results. 

Annual sales and expenses increased for all Systems, while gross margins fell for the Feed & 
Forages and Pasture Systems and remained stable for the Mixed Systems. In fact, the Pasture System 
in 1986 had a negative gross margin and a sales to expenses ration below 1.0, both indications of a 
shortfall in net margin. Sales to investment ratios generally showed a small decline between 1981 and 
1986, while the sales to expenses ratios declined significantly, especially for the Feed & Forages and 
Mixed -Low Pasture systems. 



26 



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28 

3.4 Interlake ARR 

Nine ARAs make up this ARR, which stretches north and west from Beausejour and Selkirk to 
the Saskatchewan border at the Pas. Most of the unit is a plain of medium-textured Dark Gray 
Chernozemic soils with a slight heat limitation for aimual cereal production, but heavy-textured Black 
Chernozemic soils occur in the southeast. This ARR represents the northern fringe of agriculture in 
Manitoba and most farms are located in the southern portion of it between Lakes Winnipeg and Manitoba. 

Results from the 1981 Census indicated that four Major Systems (Pasture, Feeds & Forages- 
Moderate Pasture, Mixed-Low Pasture, Mixed-Moderate Pasture) accounted for 68 percent of the farms 
(Table 2). There was a negative association between farm size and cultivated area, i.e. Systems with 
smaller farm sizes had a higher proportion of cultivated land. 

Total capital value per hectare was highest in the Mixed Systems, while the distribution of capital 
shows the importance of livestock in the Feeds & Forages and Pasture systems. The Mixed-Low Pasture 
System had the highest sales and expenses values per hectare, but the Feeds and Forages System had a 
comparable gross margin due to relatively low expenses. There was very little variation in capital 
investment use efficiency amongst Major Systems, but higher values in the sales to operating expenses 
ratios were seen in the Feeds & Forages and Pasture Systems. This trend was due in part to the higher 
expenses of the Mixed Systems; expenses which did not result in relatively higher sales in the 1980 
drought year. 

There was little change in the proportion of farms in Feeds & Forages and Mixed-Moderate 
Pasture Systems between 1981 and 1986, but the Mixed-Low Pasture System and the Pasture System 
increased their representation significantly (Table 13). Farm size relative to 1981 increased for all Major 
Systems except Mixed-Low Pasture, but the proportion under cultivation remained fairly constant. An 
increase in the sununerfallow proportion was evident in Mixed Systems. 

By 1986, total capital value per hectare increased in the least intensive Pasture System and most 
intensive Mixed-Low Pasture System, but declined in all others. The Pasture System showed an increase 
in the proportion in machinery and less in the land component. Sales and expenses increased and gross 
margins decreased, most notably in the Mixed Systems, for which fertilizer and fuel expenses nearly 
doubled. The ratio of gross sales to operating expenses dropped dramatically for all Major Systems, a 
demonstration that the high operating costs in 1985 were not matched by comparably high gross incomes. 
Sales to expenses ratio values for 1986 for the Mixed Systems (1.12-1.15) indicated very low economic 
efficiencies. 



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31 

3.5 Manitoba Escarpment ARR 

This region is comprised of nine ARAs and includes the city of Brandon. The majority of this 
unit is a plain of medium-textured Black Chernozemic soils with a slight heat limitation for aimual cereal 
production. The northern extreme is defined by the Duck Mountain ARR while the western limit is the 
Manitoba-Saskatchewan border. The Canadian border delineates the southern extent and the Winnipeg 
Plain, West Lake, Spruce Woods and Riding Mountain ARRs delimit the eastern boundary. 

The 1981 Census indicated that two Mixed Systems accounted for nearly 45 percent of the farms, 
while two other Major Systems (Wheat-Low Pasture and Wheat-Moderate Pasture) accounted for only 
nine percent (Table 14). The Mixed-Moderate Pasture System had the largest average farm size. 

Capital investment totals were highest in Low Pasture Systems, and the distribution of capital was 
relatively consistent for all Major systems, with the exception of higher values in the livestock component 
for the Mixed-Moderate Pasture System. Operating expenses per hectare were highest for the Low 
Pasture Systems, a reflection of the greater proportion of the land base under cultivation. Fuel and 
fertilizer expenses were also highest for these systems, an indication of the intensive use of such inputs. 
Sales and gross margins followed the same pattern of higher levels in the Low Pasture Systems. The 
capital use efficiency ratios were fairly uniform, with a slightly higher sales to expenses ratio for the 
Mixed Systems relative to the Wheat Systems. 

A shift in the distribution of farms in each Major System was evident in the 1986 results, with 
Wheat Systems making large gains in farm numbers, and Mixed Systems showing losses of a similar 
magnitude (Table 15). Farm size increased substantially for all systems except Mixed-Low Pasture, 
which showed little change. Increased proportions of cropland in oilseeds and decreased percentages in 
barley also occurred for most Major Systems. 

A decrease in total capital value in all Major Systems was coincident with a lower proportion of 
value in land and buildings and a higher proportion in machinery and equipment. Operating expenses 
per hectare increased considerably, especially for inputs such as fuel and fertilizer. Gross margins for 
all systems fell relative to the 1981 data, an indication that total sales did not keep pace with increases 
in operating expenses. This observation was supported by the decline in the sales/expenses ratios. 



32 






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34 

3.6 Spruce Woods ARR 

This region is comprised of two ARAs and contains the Town of Carberry. The majority of this 
unit consists of hummocky terrain and coarse-textured parent material on which Black Chernozemic and 
Regosolic soils have developed. Smaller areas of level terrain with medium-textured parent material and 
Black Chernozemic soils occur. The eastern portion of the ARR consists of deeply dissected areas of 
Dark Gray Chernozemic soils. There is a slight heat limitation for annual cereal production throughout 
the ARR. The region is bounded on the east and north by the West Lake ARR and on the west and south 
by the Manitoba Escarpment ARR. 

Data from the 1981 Census indicated that four Major Systems (Specialty-Moderate and Low 
Pasture, Pasture and Mixed-Moderate Pasture) accounted for nearly 85 percent of the farms (Table 16). 
In this ARR, larger farm sizes were associated with higher percentages of the land base in cultivation, 
except for the Specialty-Low Pasture System, which had the smallest farm size and the greatest percentage 
under cultivation. The crop mix in the Pasture System differed from the Specialty and Mixed Systems 
in that a greater percentage of the cultivated land base was in feed grains and forage crops. 

The distribution of capital investment in 1981 indicated that the Specialty Systems were highly 
capitalized, particularly in land and buildings and machinery and equipment. Distinctive differences were 
evident in sales and expenses per hectare, with Pasture and Mixed-Moderate Pasture Systems showing 
the lowest economic inputs and outputs. Conversely, higher fuel and fertilizer expenses were 
characteristic of the more intensive Specialty Systems. The sales to investment ratio demonstrated that 
the highest returns with respect to capital investment were in the Specialty System, while the sales to 
expenses ratio indicated that the high annual input costs of the Specialty System were not used as 
efficiently as in the Mixed-Moderate Pasture System. 

A shift in the proportion of farms in each Major System between 1981 and 1986 was evident, 
with the Wheat-Low Pasture System showing a large gain and the Specialty-Moderate Pasture System 
showing a decline (Table 17). Farm size increased substantially for all Major Systems except the 
Mixed-Moderate Pasture, in which it declined. The proportion of total farm area under cultivation 
remained constant in comparison to the 1981 figures. Crop distributions showed a lower percentage of 
special crops and a higher proportion of wheat and oilseeds in the Specialty and Wheat Systems in 1986. 

Total capital value per hectare was lower in 1986 than in 1981 for all Major Systems. The 
decline was accompanied by a shift to lower percentages of capital in land and buildings and higher 
percentages in machinery and equipment, particularly in the Specialty-Low Pasture System. Operating 
expenses per hectare for inputs such as fuel and fertilizer increased considerably in all Major Systems 
while gross margins fell. The 1986 Census data sales to investment ratios were higher than those for 
1981 as a result of higher total sales and significantly lower total capital values. The sales to expenses 
ratios followed the Province-wide trends and of a narrowing of the gap between systems. 



35 





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37 

3.7 Souris River Basin ARR 

There are two ARAs within this ARR in the southeastern corner of Manitoba which includes the 
Town of Melita. The Region consists of coarse-textured Black Chemozemic soils with a minor heat 
limitation and a slight moisture deficit for annual crop production. The northern boundary is defined by 
the Manitoba Escarpment ARR, the western by the Saskatchewan border, the southern by the United 
States border and the eastern by Turtle Mountain ARR. 

Six Major Systems (Mixed and Wheat with Lx)w and Moderate Pasture, Feeds & Forages- 
Moderate Pasture and Pasture) accounted for 74 percent of the farms in 1981, with Mixed Systems 
accounting for more than half of this total (Table 18). All systems were characterized by relatively large 
farms, with Lx)w Pasture Systems showing high proportions under cultivation, and Feeds and Forages and 
Pasture Systems with relatively low percentages of cultivated land. 

The Feeds & Forages and Pasture Systems had the lowest total capital value per hectare and the 
highest percent of capital in the livestock component. The Feeds & Forages and Mixed Systems had the 
highest gross margins while Wheat and Pasture Systems had the lowest. Wheat Systems had the highest 
total sales per hectare for 1980, but had high fuel and fertilizer costs and low gross margins. The sales 
to investment ratios indicated minimal differentiation amongst systems, while the sales to expenses ratios 
showed a downward continuum from Pasture to Feeds & Forages through Mixed-Moderate Pasture, 
Wheat Moderate Pasture, Mixed-Low Pasture to Wheat-Low Pasture. 

The 1986 Census indicated a shift in the proportion of farms per Major Systems, with Wheat 
Systems showing large increases and Mixed, Feeds & Forages and Pasture Systems showing declines or 
no change (Table 19). Farm size rose substantially in Wheat-Low Pasture and Pasture Systems but 
dropped in Mixed-Low Pasture and Feeds & Forages Systems. Changes in crop mixes for 1986 included 
more wheat in the Wheat Systems, more oilseeds in the Mixed-Low Pasture System and more forages 
and less cereals for feed in the Feeds & Forages System. 

A decrease in total capital value per hectare between 1981 and 1986 for all Major Systems was 
associated with a higher proportion in machinery and equipment. Operating expenses per hectare were 
considerably higher, especially for fuel and fertilizer. Gross margins were similar in both years in four 
of the six systems, while the Pasture Systems had a 50 percent decline and the Wheat-Low Pasture 
System had a 50 percent increase. The Wheat System improvement corresponded to a similar increase 
in sales. Sales to investment ratios increased over the time interval, as sales rose and total capital value 
fell. The sales to expenses ratios mirrored the declines in other ARRs, with a narrowing of the gap 
between Major Systems as well. 



38 



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40 

3.8 Turtle Mountain ARR 

One of the two ARAs that make up this region is dominated by an area of loamy Dark Gray 
Chernozemic soils with steep topography that roughly corresponds to Turtle Mountain Provincial Park. 
The other is a hununocky to undulating plain with medium-textured Black Chernozemic soils used for 
agriculture. This ARR has a slight heat limitation for annual cereal production. It is bounded by the 
Souris River Basin ARR to the northwest, the Manitoba Escarpment ARR to the northeast and the United 
States border to the south. 

In 1981, four Major Systems (Wheat and Wheat & Oilseeds with Lx)w Pasture, Wheat and Mixed 
with Moderate Pasture) accounted for 45 percent of the farms (Table 20). Large farm sizes were 
common in all systems, and the importance of wheat was noted by its predominance in crop distributions. 
Hay or cereals for feed did not form a significant proportion of any Major System. 

Total capital value per hectare was highest in the Low Pasture Systems, while a greater proportion 
of capital in livestock was associated with Moderate Pasture Systems. Gross margins were highest in the 
Wheat & Oilseeds Systems, which had the highest total sales per hectare. In terms of inputs, the Low 
Pasture Systems had higher expenditures for fuel and fertilizer. The sales to investment ratio in 1981 was 
similar in all Major Systems, while the sales to expenses ratios indicated a clear advantage in economic 
efficiency for the Moderate Pasture Systems. 

In 1986, the same four Major Systems accounted for over 70 percent of the farms, and the 
proportion of farms classified in Wheat Systems had more than doubled (Table 21). Farm size rose 
substantially for the Wheat Systems while the proportion of the land base in cultivation remained stable. 
There was no significant change in crop mix for any Major System. 

A decrease in total capital value per hectare over the five year period 1981-1986 for all Major 
Systems was associated with an increase in the portion of value in machinery and equipment. Operating 
expenses per hectare increased, as noted in higher fuel and fertilizer expenditures relative to 1981 figures. 
Gross margins reported for 1986 in the Low Pasture Systems were roughly similar to those in 1981, 
while Moderate Pasture systems had lower margins in 1986. Sales to investment ratios had increased by 
1986 due to higher total sales and a significant decline in total capital value. Sales to expenses ratios 
followed the province-wide trend of a decline and a narrowing of the gap between systems within an 
ARR. 



41 





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43 

3.9 Riding Mountain ARR 

This region contains two ARAs, the larger and more northerly of which generally corresponds 
to Riding Mountain National Park. The majority of the southern ARA is a hummocky upland of medium- 
textured Dark Gray Chemozemic soils with a slight heat limitation for aimual cereal production. The 
West Lake ARR forms the eastern boundary while the Manitoba Escarpment ARR surrounds the 
remainder of this ARR. 

Three Major Systems (Mixed-Moderate Pasture, Feeds & Forages-Moderate Pasture, and Pasture) 
accounted for over 70 percent of the farms in 1981 (Table 22). Farm size varied considerably amongst 
the Major Systems, with Mixed-Moderate Pasture having the largest land base and the largest proportion 
cultivated. Crop distributions indicated a high proportion of wheat and summerfallow on the cultivated 
land in both Mixed and Pasture systems. 

Total capital value per hectare was highest for Feeds & Forages, and a high percentage of capital 
was invested in livestock in all Major systems. Gross margins were highest for the Mixed System, which 
also had the highest total sales per hectare. Sales to investment ratios were similar for all systems, while 
the sales to expenses ratio was highest for the Feeds & Forages System. This result would not be 
expected from the aimual income and expense figures, and was perhaps a result of the relatively small 
sample size and considerable variability in the economic situation of farms in this system. 

Analysis of 1986 Census data indicated that the same three systems still accounted for 
approximately 70 percent of the farms (Table 23). Farm size increased for all Major Systems, especially 
the Pasture System. In this system there was a decreased proportion of wheat and summerfallow and an 
increased percentage of hay on the cultivated land area. 

A general decrease in total capital value per hectare was associated with shifts in the distribution 
of capital from land to machinery in the Mixed System and from machinery to livestock in the Pasture 
System. Total sales and operating expenses increased in all Major Systems between the two Census 
years, but gross margins declined. Sales to investment ratios increased due to a rise in total sales and 
a large decline in total capital value per hectare. The sales to expenses ratios calculated from 1986 
Census data declined relative to 1981 and the gap between Systems narrowed. The Feeds and Forages 
System showed the most dramatic decline in efficiency of use of operating expenses, as it dropped from 
the position of highest in 1981 to lowest in 1986. 



44 



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46 

3.10 Duck Mountain ARR 

Two of the three ARAs in this region correspond to Provincial land reserves: Porcupine 
Provincial Forest and Duck Mountain Provincial Forest and Park. The small central land unit linking 
these two is a plain of medium-textured Black Chernozemic soils which suffers from a slight heat 
limitation for annual cereal production. The eastern and northern boundaries of this ARR are defmed 
by the West Lake ARR, while the Saskatchewan border delimits the western edge and the Manitoba 
Escarpment ARR the southern limit. 

Four Major Systems (Wheat, Wheat & Oilseeds and Mixed, all with Low Pasture, and Mixed- 
Moderate Pasture) accounted for over 65 percent of the farms in 1981 (Table 24). Farm size varied, with 
the Wheat & Oilseeds System having the largest land base and the highest percentage of area cultivated. 
Wheat was the dominant crop in all Major Systems, while secondary choices ranged from oilseeds and 
barley in the Wheat & Oilseeds System to summerfallow and barley in the Mixed Systems. 

The Wheat System had the highest total capital value per hectare of all systems compared, and 
only the Mixed-Moderate Pasture System had a significant investment in livestock. Gross margins were 
highest for the Wheat & Oilseeds and Wheat System, even though expenses per hectare were also highest. 
The sales to investment and sales to expenses ratios were similar across systems, although the sales to 
expenses ratios were relatively high compared to other ARRs. However, caution is advised when 
considering these results, since the sample size is small. 

The four Major Systems still accounted for approximately 70 percent of the farms in 1986 (Table 
25). The distribution of farms changed, with the number of farms decreasing in Mixed Systems and 
increasing in Wheat Systems. Farm size decreased in the Wheat & Oilseeds System and increased in the 
others, although the proportion of the land base under cultivation in each Major System remained 
constant. Crop mixes indicated an increased proportion of oilseeds. 

The Major Systems in this ARR increased in total capital value per hectare although there was 
a decrease in the proportion in land and buildings. Total sales and operating expenses per hectare 
increased, but the result was a decline in gross margins, as expenses increased more than sales. The sales 
to investment ratios increased by 1986, but the sales to expenses ratios decreased with respect to the 
earlier time period. 



47 



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49 

4.0 DISCUSSION 

The analysis of Census data at the farm level, grouped by Agroecological Resource Regions and 
analysed at the level of intensity of cropping systems, provides an overview of production characteristics 
within the agricultural region of Manitoba. When analyzed over two (or more) time periods, it also 
reveals trends in management techniques and cropping practices as influenced by changing external 
conditions such as markets and weather. 

The cropping systems classification scheme established for this study was based on specific 
combinations and proportions of crops, carefully selected to reflect land use intensity. Legend classes 
ranged from the high intensity Specialty System to the less intensive Wheat, Wheat & Oilseeds and Mixed 
Systems, to the low intensity Feeds & Forages and Pasture Systems. The subdivision into Low and 
Moderate Pasture versions further defined this trend in land use intensity, as well as recognizing local 
variations in land capability for agriculture. 

The predominant cropping systems within an ARR, and the physical and economic 
characterization of these cropping systems, identify the general land use profile of an ARR. In this sense 
there are five distinct profiles of biophysical units in Manitoba. 

The highest intensity of land use is in the Winnipeg Plain, which is unique in being dominated 
by high intensity Specialty Systems and Low Pasture versions of Wheat and Wheat & Oilseeds Systems, 
with a virtual absence of low intensity systems such as Feeds & Forages and Pasture. Trends in this area 
between 1981 and 1986 include a decline in the number of Specialty farms, increases in the number of 
Wheat, Wheat & Oilseeds and Mixed farms, increases in farm size and oilseed acreage and decreases in 
summerfallow and barley acreage. This ARR has the highest levels of economic inputs and performance, 
and it is the only ARR with an increase in gross margins for all Major Systems in the 1981-1986 period. 

The second profile, represented by Spruce Woods ARR, is similar to the Winnipeg Plain in that 
specialty crops are common, but here the dominant system is the Moderate Pasture version of Specialty. 
In this ARR, more than 10% of the farms are in each of the Mixed-Moderate Pasture or Pasture Systems. 
This is indicative of a landscape with a mix of high quality and poorer quality soils. Between 1981 and 
1986 the number of farms in Specialty-Moderate Pasture decreased and the number in Specialty-Low 
Pasture and Wheat-Low Pasture increased. This is coincident with lower specialty crop proportions, 
higher wheat and oilseeds percentages and larger farm sizes. The economic conditions in the Spruce 
Woods ARR were only moderate, with the best gross margin (for Specialty-Low Pasture in 1981) 
equivalent to the second poorest (Wheat-Low Pasture) on the Winnipeg Plain. However, Spruce Woods 
stands out ft-om other ARRs in that gross margins did not fall dramatically between 1981 and 1986. 

The third profile is one of Wheat Systems in association with Mixed Systems, without Specialty, 
Feeds & Forages or Pasture Systems. This is characteristic of the agricultural areas of Turtle Mountain, 
Manitoba Escarpment and Duck Mountain ARRs. These areas are also typified by general and sometimes 
dramatic shifts fi-om Mixed Systems to Wheat Systems between 1981 and 1986. These shifts are 
accompanied by an increase in oilseed acreage and a decrease in barley within systems. Economic 
performance is moderate, with sales, expenses and gross margin values somewhat below those of farms 
in the Winnipeg Plain and Spruce Woods ARRs. Gross margins are generally lower in 1986 than in 
1981, with only the top performers (Wheat-Low Pasture and Wheat & Oilseeds-Low Pasture) in Turtle 
Mountain showing modest increases. 

West Lake and Souris River Basin ARRs are similar to the previous profile, being characterized 
by Wheat and Mixed Systems, but they also had significant numbers of Feed & Forage and Pasture 
Systems. Like Spruce Woods, these cropping routines signify a variable landscape. Between 1981 and 
1986 there was a general shift from Mixed Systems into Wheat Systems, while those systems based on 
forages and pasture remained relatively stable in number. Crop proportions within systems shifted toward 



50 

more oilseeds and forages and less barley and feed cereals. The economic margin of these Systems in 
these ARRs was poor in 1981 and generally worse in 1986. The gross margin, which was about 50% 
of those in the Winnipeg Plain, improved somewhat for Wheat-Low Pasture System in the Souris Basin, 
while all systems in West Lake showed lower gross margins in 1986 than in 1981. 

The final group of ARRs consists of Sandilands, Interlake and Riding Mountain; areas dominated 
by Mixed, Feeds & Forages and Pasture Systems. There was a shift from Feeds & Forages to Mixed 
Systems between 1981 and 1986, and a trend to more oilseeds in Mixed Systems. Economic conditions 
were very poor. The gross margins were about 20% of those in the Winnipeg Plain, and declined or, 
in the best cases, remained stable over the 1981-1986 period. In the Sandilands ARR, Pasture Systems 
showed an average gross margin of -$ll/ha in 1986. 

There were some fairly consistent trends for all cropping schemes in all areas of Manitoba over 
the time period studied. Between 1981 and 1986 in Manitoba there was an almost universal increase in 
the proportion of cultivated land devoted to oilseeds (primarily canola) and wheat. This increase came 
at the expense of specialty crops (com, sunflowers, beans, etc.), barley and to a certain extent 
summerfallow, and was expressed as changes in cropping systems as well as changes in crop proportions 
within systems. There was also a general shift from cereals used for feed to forages. These crop changes 
were accompanied by a general increase in farm size and an increase in the proportion of land cultivated. 
This was probably the result of farmers acquiring additional cultivated land as well as bringing formerly 
uncultivated land into annual crop production. 

In terms of farm finances. Census data indicated a general decline in value of assets and 
profitability between 1981 and 1986. For most systems in most ARRs, total capital investment declined, 
while total sales of agricultural products and annual (operating) expenses increased. The decline in capital 
values was probably due in part to a reduction of livestock inventories and depreciation of machinery in 
an attempt to improve cash flow, but is was also due to devaluation of land as a function of declining land 
prices. A widespread decline in gross margins as calculated from Census data was revealed, which may 
be due to selling off of inventory in 1980, thus raising sales figures above that associated with crop 
production. 

The sales to expenses ratio also showed lower values based on the 1986 Census than on the 1981 
figures for all Major Systems except one (Wheat-Low Pasture, Souris River Basin ARR). This indicates 
that sales relative to expenses in 1985 were lower than sales relative to expenses in 1980. In other words, 
it appears that not only did the economic margin per unit of land area decrease, but that it cost more to 
generate that lower margin. 

Several responses to these changing economic conditions were evident. One strategy was to 
increase farm size in order to expand total production and realize economies of scale. This trend was 
found in essentially all Major Systems and Regions in Manitoba. The substitution of high-value oilseed 
crops for forages and barley was another attempt to maintain or increase gross margins. This resulted 
in shifts to cropping systems with high proportions of higher valued crops. 

An increase in the number of farms in Wheat Systems, associated with a decline in Specialty and 
Mixed Systems, indicates an attempt to reduce risk and increase income. The shift away from an 
expensive and risky specialty crop such as corn toward a conventional and reliable crop such as wheal 
decreases the chance of crop failure and thus reduces income variability. Conversely, movement away 
from a diversified, low-risk Mixed system toward a more risky monoculture Wheat System represents 
an attempt to overcome rising costs by concentrating on the production of a higher-valued crop. 

Despite the general decline in economic profitability and efficiency, it is evident that farms in 
areas with better quality land generally operate more effectively than those in areas with more constraints. 
The average sales to expenses ratios and gross margins per hectare of all Major Systems within each ARR 



51 

(Table 26), show the higher-ranking regions (Winnipeg Plain, Manitoba Escarpment, Turtle Mountain 
and Duck Mountain) to be those where land resource limitations are the fewest, while middle-ranked 
ARRs (Spruce Woods, Souris River Basin and West Lake) have some moderate limitations. Conversely, 
those ARRs that ranked lowest in both 1981 and 1986 (Sandilands, Riding Mountain and Interlake) have 
the highest number of major physical limitations, notably with respect to soil parent materials. 

Table 26. Average Gross Margins and Average Sales to Expenses Ratios by ARR, 1981 and 1986. 

Agroecological Average Gross Average Sales to 

Resource Region Margins ($/ha) Expenses Ratio 

1981 1986 1981 1986 



Winnipeg Plain 


98 


103 


1.84 


1.49 


West Lake 


49 


40 


1.77 


1.36 


Sandilands 


22 


16 


1.50 


1.14 


Interlake 


20 


17 


1.66 


1.23 


Manitoba Escarpment 


76 


64 


2.00 


1.48 


Spruce Woods 


68 


68 


1.86 


1.48 


Souris River Basin 


48 


45 


1.93 


1.51 


Turtle Mountain 


76 


84 


1.99 


1.60 


Riding Mountain 


24 


16 


1.84 


1.25 


Duck Mountain 


75 


65 


1.99 


1.44 



Table 27. Gross Margins and Sales to Expenses Ratios for Mixed Cropping Systems by ARR, 1981 and 
1986. 



Agroecological 
Resource Region 


Gross Margins 
($/ha) 


Sales to Expenses 
Ratio 




1981 




1986 


1981 


1986 


Winnipeg Plain 


77 




90 


1.86 


1.44 


West Lake 


63 




53 


1.98 


1.39 


Sandilands 


41 




39 


1.81 


0.28 


Interlake 


40 




15 


1.53 


1.12 


Manitoba Escarpment 


75 




56 


2.08 


1.47 


Spruce Woods 


61 




51 


2.20 


1.49 


Souris River Basin 


53 




51 


1.73 


1.40 


Turtle Mountain 


71 




62 


2.13 


1.65 


Riding Mountain 


33 




21 


1.77 


0.14 


Duck Mountain 


74 




74 


2.14 


1.49 



52 

This association of better financial performance with more agronomically favourable areas is 
apparent even when differences in cropping systems are eliminated. Table 27 presents gross margins and 
sales to expenses ratios for Mixed cropping systems in each ARR for both the 1981 and 1986 Census 
data. Comparison of similar cropping systems (Mixed-Low Pasture and Mixed-Moderate Pasture) show 
similar groupings of ARRs, with the Winnipeg Plain, Manitoba Escarpment and Turtle and Duck 
Mountains being the favoured regions. 

5.0 CONCLUSIONS 

The data presented and discussed in this report were produced by a method which links broad 
agriculturally important landscape units with farm-level socioeconomic data through a cropping systems 
classification. The use of biophysically defined land units in an hierarchical structure provided an 
efficient and effective technique for database organization and analysis. The development of a farm 
classification based on crop distributions provided the opportunity to review the physical and economic 
characteristics of more than 17,000 farms in both 1981 and 1986. The result is a socioeconomic 
characterization of distinct landscape units in the agricultural area of Manitoba, stratified by defined crop 
combinations. 

The characterization of landscape units included the identification of all 'Major Systems' within 
each Agroecological Resource Region, as well as the socioeconomic description of those systems in 
relation to other regions and systems, and the changes which occurred between 1981 and 1986. This 
method provided an opportunity to identify characteristics and trends within specific ARRs as well as 
more wide ranging conditions common to all regions. 

The description of spatial and economic variation in agricultural production indicates several 
important farm management trends. With respect to the years 1981 and 1986, (1980 and 1985 for sales), 
the following general differences are evident: 

1. generally better economic performance in both 1981 and 1986 in those regions with less 
severe land resource constraints; 

2. fewer farms in Specialty and Mixed Systems and more farms in Wheat Systems in 1986; 

3. larger farm sizes and greater proportions of land cultivated in 1986; 

4. greater proportion of cultivated land in oilseed crops in 1986; 

5. higher levels of land use intensity (ie: cropping system changes) in 1986; and 

6. lower sales to expenses ratios in 1986. 

Descriptive studies such as this - although necessary to identify and focus attention on successes 
or problems - often raise numerous questions pertaining to cause and effect. Such is the case here, 
particularly with respect to economics. For example, the differences noted in gross margins and sales 
ratios between 1981 and 1986 seem contradictory with respect to crop production (i.e. drought, 1980). 
What caused the Census results? What is the long-term trend in sales to expenses ratios? A more 
'explanatory' study using other and/or more years of data is warranted. 



53 
6.0 REFERENCES 

Dumanski, J., M. Phipps and E. Hufftnan. 1987. A study of relationships between soil survey data 

and agricultural land use using information theory. Can. J. Soil Sci. 67:95-102 
Eilers, R. 1989. Canada-Manitoba Soil Survey Unit, Winnipeg. 
FAO. 1976. A framework for land evaluation. FAO. Rome: 72 pp. 
FAO. 1978. Report on the agroecological zones project: Vol. 1. Methodology and results for 

Africa. FAO, Rome 15 pp. 
FAO. 1984. Guidelines: Land evaluation for rainfed agriculture. FAO, Rome: 237 pp. 
Hufftnan, E., and J. Dumanski. 1985. Agricultural land use systems: An economic approach to 

rural land use inventory. J. Soil and Water Conservation, V.40, No. 3, 302-306. 
Huffman, E. 1988. A description of physical and economic strategies of farming in the major soil 

zones of the Canadian Prairies, in J. Dumanski and V. Kirkwood (Eds.), Crop production risks 

in the Canadian prairie region in relation to climate and land resources. Technical Bulletin 1988- 

5E, Research Branch, Agriculture Canada, Ottawa. 
Hufftnan, E., E. Yaxley and J. Hiley. 1988. Agricultural land use systems of the Regional 

Municipality of Haldimand-Norfolk. Research Branch, Agriculture Canada, Ottawa. LRRI 

Contribution No. 85-32. 30 pp., 3 maps. 
Pettapiece, W.W. 1989. Agroecological resource areas of Alberta. Map at 1:2 million. Research 

Branch, Agriculture Canada, Edmonton, Alberta. 





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